This web-based activity is part of the Historical Association's work on
Teaching Emotive and Controversial Issues, and forms part of the online
support materials. It uses the fictional story, Rose Blanche
by Ian McEwan (2004), published by Random House – albeit closely based
on historical facts, to explore the Holocaust in Eastern Europe in WW2,
and the reactions of various people to it.
By studying the past, and asking how people might have reacted at that
time when faced with difficult and agonising choices – the consequences
for disobeying the law and helping Jews were extreme – pupils are
encouraged to face up to similar kinds of situations today in their
everyday life. In fact, the opening activities ask pupils to do just
that. This is an effective way to help develop the skills needed to
effectively evaluate and discuss potentially controversial issues in
their daily lives.
The questions and tasks within this resource will motivate
pupils because they require direct opinions and engagement with the
people within the story, and will help them consider a range of issues
such as conflict, community, deprivation, discrimination, extremism,
identity, migration, relationships and segregation.
The activity could also form part of a cross-circular approach and the
sequence could be taught as an introduction or follow up to other
subject or 'whole school' work on the Holocaust. For a selection of
images from the book, (illustrations by Roberto Innocenti), that could
be used as stimulus, see Google books (hyperlink below).